When it hits you

This Friday I went down to the Fort Canning park to watch the much awaited Merchant of Venice performed by the talented lot at the Singapore Repertory Theatre.

Aaaaaaa! Shakespeare!
People settling down with their mats and picnic baskets, it was super hot!
The case taking a bow. The play ended close to 11 pm.

It was a scintillating depiction of the classic play, with a great cast and a wonderful ambiance save for the excessively dry and sultry weather at the beginning of the queue-up. My friend and I reached the venue an hour before the show time, and had to wait outside the park gate for over 30 minutes along with thousands of other Shakespeare enthusiasts. Here's how the conversation went:

Friend: Gawd it's hot!
Me: I know! Wish you'd have sneaked some beer from your office..
Friend: Yeah, hope they're selling some inside. I wish I'd picked a different day, school night's always crowded 
Me: Oh well. Look at them, taking selfies, posing like idiots, then they'll rush to upload it somewhere and go, 'look at me! I'm so classy and popular' It's such a wannabe age
Friend: Hahah yeah I can't remember when I was that age..I mean we're only 23 so technically it hasn't been that long 
Me: Right..but it's so true like as you grow older, the younger lot starts to look more and more lame
Friend: And you wanna say to them, "prance around all you want now! but wait till you start working for that cash.."
Me: Haha yeah..wow! we sound like an old grumpy couple
Friend: Hey! I'm sure I'm younger than a lot of people here *looks around miserably 
Me: Well at least one of them  *points to a balding head in the distance
Friend: *groan

It's such a vague transition to the other side of the line. From the insecure rebellious dissatisfied teenage to the more stable and self-assuring young adulthood. Suffice to say, there never was a more varied journey than life. 

Getting back on the blogging track

Apologies for a rather long hiatus! Turns out leaving facebook drew me away from a lot of social media altogether. It still serves as a most delightful vacuum, but I figured it's time I reignite my love of writing and return to the blogging world. 

This morning I read my last post and realized how far back in time it was. I had yet to sit for my final university exams, or secure a job. I was confused, anxious, eager to get away from the student life and start earning. Now, a little over a year later, I'm sitting at my desk at work. 20 min to go before the lunch break gets over and it dawns on me how much life has changed. 

I'd say the transition from being a student to a full-time working adult was gratifying. Moving out of the dorm, renting out my own place, managing all the bills, finances, buying groceries, repairing a leaky faucet, moving on from a hundred first dates to a stable relationship..shit got real!

Let's see if I'm able to chronicle some of the best/worst moments from the past year and years to come, but rest assured, it feels great to be back!

So…I guess I quit Facebook

I've been meaning to take this step ever since the beginning of this year. My reasons to go on being a part of this unavailing parade?  Friends, Family, Professional connections, Social circles and the general need to "stay in the loop".

It's no hidden truth that Facebook has swept over the entire world like a giant wave of consumerism, marketing and social media. It's easy to be a part of it because it's free. But you know what they say "If you're not paying for it, then you're not the customer; You're the product being sold."

The question I most deal with these days is why I took this step. Some of my friends (including my mom) thought that something had "happened". I'm writing this post to clear the air and try to explain myself.

The thought crossed my mind last week. I pictured how it would be like if I left Facebook. It was random, like a fleeting thought that often crosses a weary mind. I wondered, what if something wonderful happens, what if I decide to take a trip around the world, what if I meet a celebrity, what if really good things start happening; how am I gonna share all that, where will I put all those pictures, all those memories, how will I show-off? How will my 1000+ friends get to know what's going on in my life? I laughed at my haughtiness and brush those thoughts aside.

Yesterday, however, I wasn't thinking. I logged into Facebook first thing in the morning and disabled my account. Maybe it was easier because I wasn't thinking. I was just consumed by this overwhelming urge to quit the site. Once safe out of its reach, I gathered my thoughts.

Being friends on Facebook doesn't mean a thing in real life. There were people I was friends with online, whom I never speak with otherwise. It was ridiculous.

Secondly, it makes it way too easy for people to contact each other. If you wanna see a friend, you get off your ass and walk up to where they are, or at least pick up your damn phone and give them a call. Facebook has literally reduced the sense of friendship to a bunch of digital signals. Instead of bridging the gaps, it has only created more walls.

There was a girl in one of my classes this semester, whom I saw once a week. We would always sit together, talk about our lives and share a chuckle or two over the jokes that our professor cracked. She was not on Facebook. So I couldn't add her. The first time this hit me, I felt sad that I won't be able to keep in touch with someone I connected so well with. But then we would talk over the phone and hang-out after our class. I would actually look forward to Mondays when I would get to see my friend. It was a different kind of thrill. And rest assured, I felt closer to her than most of my other close friends who're too cool to step off Facebook and spend time in person.

The truth is, your real friends will always find you. They'll always know what's on your mind. Not because they saw it on their news-feed but because they care enough to actually ask you. They don't need to be reminded that it's your b'day or that they need to wish you new years. They'll always remember.

Funny thing is I joined Facebook almost 4 years back, right before I started my university life; and I quit now when I am mere weeks away from graduating. It's like the end of an era. I wont be completely starving myself technology-wise though; there're always ways to telecommunicate with your loved ones. All I want now is to focus on living my life, rather than sharing it.

Perfection is an illusion

There's a lesson I learnt very recently, from a most unexpected source - video games.

Craig Benzine or better known as WheezyWaiter has never failed to amuse me. While surfing his YouTube channel last week, I stumbled upon a playlist of him playing Dark Souls. A few videos down and I felt that old gamer in me shift a little. I used to play a lot of video games back in high school and then completely stopped after joining university. Well needless to say, I revisited an old steam account, and downloaded the first game I saw in my library: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I started playing this morning, which went by quicker than I could realize.

I've always been a cautious player, you know the kind who has one eye on the game and the other switching  between the scores and the health/power/strength levels, one who never lets an unopened chest or an unvisited room go by, one who needs to find all the keys, all the treasure, the kind obsessed with perfect scores! I must admit it's hard to enjoy the game, once your attention's split between all the rest.

There was a simple task I was facing in the game. I was supposed to pick a lock in order to open this chest. It required perfect timing. I was still learning how to do this, so I missed the first few times, but even as I was gaining on the confidence and knowledge, I was losing on the number of attempts I could make, and eventually, I had to pass the chest and move on. I found myself thinking of that chest for the next 20 minutes or so, I felt I couldn't move on until I knew what's in it. I even considered starting the game all over again, just so I could get another shot at it.

Then I remembered.

Having watched Craig play for so long, I suddenly remembered his style. He would focus on only one thing: moving on in the game. I would see him miss so many instructions and items on his way (and I would cringe a little) but he would somehow always make up for them later. He would never get stuck. He would go around smashing stuff, figuring things out along the way, making mistakes, learning from them, and never stop having fun!

There is a lesson to this, don't you think? It reflects a way of life. Unlike in video games, you cannot restart your life, there's no point worrying over the opportunities you missed or the mistakes you made. There's always gonna be a way to make up for them later. There's no going back so you might as well focus on moving forward and enjoying the game for what it's worth.

I'm gonna forget about that chest and move on.

The recollection

You know one of those scenes in an insanely emotional flick where the protagonist stumbles upon something, an object, a phrase and suddenly he has a detailed and accurate flashback of the story behind it, complete with dialogues and expressions. I never thought that were possible in real life. Needless to say, this post is about how wrong I was.

This morning, having trudged all the way to the library to carry on with my preparation for the university exams next week, I was pretty groggy and quite plainly stressed. I've always (like millions of other students) had a habit of highlighting my lecture notes. And there I was studying and highlighting my astronomy notes in yellow when a particular incident from my childhood came back to me like a flash and I stopped.

I was 6. Having submitted an article (more like a bunch of incoherent sentences about something stupid) for a little competition at school, I was told the previous week that it had won a place in my school magazine. I must've been thrilled. I don't remember. At a following event, our principal had read out the names of the winners in his speech, a copy of which was given to all present, which included my mother. That evening at home, she carefully laid out the speech on my desk and asked if she could borrow my yellow crayon. I nodded and handed it over. She then began looking through the 5-page speech. After a couple of moments I heard her go "ahhh!" as she made a thick yellow line over a particular stretch on the page using the yellow crayon. I had no idea what she was doing, but I was curious. So I leaned in and saw the line she had drawn over. It was the part of the principal's speech where he had announced my name. I still didn't get it. I looked up and asked her what the yellow color meant and she said "well it's a way of highlighting something important that you might wanna see again, only you won't have to search for it a second time!" I was swept off by this simple idea. To me, she was a genius.

Back in the library, still holding that yellow highlighter mid-air, I couldn't believe I had such a fresh account of that memory locked up in my mind somewhere. But having looked back 15 years into the past, I couldn't help but feel humbled and grateful for having all these right forces in my life. I mean I was like a handful of freshly kneaded dough, and thankfully I was shaped in the best ways possible by people who cared and still do. I put the highlighter back, grabbed my phone and got up.
"Where are you going?" my friend asked.
"Just need to call someone who taught me how to highlight."